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Karachi factory fire kills 250

Most victims trapped behind locked emergency doors

KARACHI, Pakistan | October 18, 2012

Investigators of a Karachi, Pakistan, denim factory fire that killed more than 250 people say most victims were trapped behind locked emergency doors.

The locked doors are a serious breach of Pakistani worker safety laws, and although the company owners blame a slow response by firefighters, witnesses and firefighters say the response time was only several minutes, CNN reported Thursday.

RINA, an Italian company that inspects factories on behalf of an international watchdog group, confirmed the factory had passed all inspections Aug. 20, its audit report mentioning access to "fire extinguishers and passages leading to exits was maintained free from any kind of obstruction. Primary exits and emergency exits are kept unlocked."

After the Sept. 11 fire, RINA announced it would voluntarily suspend certification procedures in Pakistan and pledged an internal investigation.

Criminal proceedings against the factory managers would begin by next year, said Faisal Siddiqi, the victims' lawyer.

Police said the primary owner of the factory was released from arrest due to deteriorating health, but said his sons involved in day-to-day operations, Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, remain in jail and could face murder charges.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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